The Weak and Unreadable – BSOC 0006 Weeks 3-4
It’s surprising to see that a month of the BSOC training has already gone by. In what is standard for BSOC, the past couple weeks have been as busy as could be. In addition to the opportunity to meet with those who do the hands on work on the systems that make army communications possible, time outside of the classroom was complimented with study, writing assignments and a few face-offs with the BCAOC course. We also learned something new about the VOM, that adds a new competition with our CELE Air brethren.
Above, Below and Through Us All
Tying into the lessons about LCSS, and gearing up to the training ahead, we were fortunate enough to have visited Line Systems Technologist (LST), Communication Systems Technologist (CST) and Information Systems Technologist (IST) training, as well as 21 EW Regt and CFJSR. For some of us, an inbox full of e-mails sounds like an exhausting way to start the day, but the folks from LST have made us put it all in perspective. From planning network wiring in a building to line running below our feet, they gave us a taste of what is one of their most difficult jobs; getting to the top of a pole or tower. Some of us were brave enough to be kitted up and climb the 70 foot post, while others let their vertigo get the best of them.
The LSTs brought to our attention not only the maintenance of posts, towers and manholes, but also of the dangers of inclement weather, and toxic or flammable gases, live circuits and radio frequency burns. Eagle’s nests, rats and snakes are the least of their concerns. These presentations gave us a better idea of considerations, how long it takes soldiers to do their jobs, and how we should factor these into an estimate.
Short words are best, and old words when short are the best of all. – Winston Churchill
When it comes to writing, there are conventions that we are expected to follow. It has yet to be determined whether or not Capt Gambin’s direction on military writing has produced the desired effect. As we hacked away at our service paper assignments, accepting that writing will be a big part of our careers, we acknowledged the fact that the use of too many adjectives and adverbs create vague statements which sound similar to the nonsense of a motivational speaker. Not intending to give the impression that the Captain’s guidance has fallen on deaf ears, we demonstrated some initiative by adopting the Word of the Day (WOD). Every morning, the top right side of whiteboard bears a new word taken from Dictionary.com or the Merriam-Webster website. The instructors were curious at first. However, we were impressed to see that they’ve been making attempts and taking delight in demonstrating their newly expanded vocabulary. However, for everyone’s benefit, it may be best that we keep those WODs to ourselves, and use simple words in short sentences.
A spelling bee might be a tough sell for an upcoming competition, however, the BSOC and BCAOC courses have already had the chance to face off more than one once. In the first competition, on 27 Jan, we, in BSOC, got a little ahead of ourselves. With dodge ball on the schedule, and still knee deep in doctrine, we all had in mind to follow the principles of manoeuvre warfare. With the best of intentions, we planned that it would be sufficient to decimate them. We should specify that to decimate means to destroy a proportion, originally a tenth, as opposed to the whole. From the get-go, it was clear that it wasn’t possible to take that approach to win the game. Therefore, we demonstrated flexibility while maintaining our aim of shattering their morale and physical cohesion. In spite of mounting an assault and carrying out our drills “Dodge, dip, duck, dive, dodge”, the students from BCAOC showed resolve and equally employed principles such as economy of effort and administration. Time was short for the best of 3, then 5, then 7, then 9 series. So we left with a 4-4 tie.
This past Thursday morning, following an animated circuit training session, the courses, along with the staff, all competed in showing their difficulty in knowing how a wheel works: flipping a tire to cover a distance. The tire flip and dash left no team with a decisive victory, but BSOC came out just a little bit ahead. On the note of the circuit training, we would like to send out our thanks to Sgt Wheele for leading the session and congratulate, now “Lt select Wheele”, as he has just been approved to commission from the ranks!
Wolfing Down What’s in the Mug
No Thursday is complete without a visit to the VOM. When Lt Brooks was course senior, he discovered and shared with us the oral history of Peter’s mug, which can be found at the mess’s bar. At the time when Peter Wilson was an officer cadet studying at RMC, being a student meant being a source of cheap labour. This was quite sensible, as the students would be future members of the very establishment. Peter, along with his colleagues, was brought up the hill to take part in the digging and masonry. At one point of the construction phase, before the mess was even completed, a commander pulled out a flask to share and set the conditions for the first drink to be had at the mess. Peter was among the group of young officers who were there for the occasion. Peter was later involved with the activities of the mess as an associate member and left behind a special tradition. On his 90th birthday, he received this pewter tankard which is like a beer stein, from the other mess members. When he passed away, he left the tankard to the mess in his will with certain conditions: it goes to the course senior from whichever C&E course could use it, as long as he or she is the first to ask for it! So there we have it, the course seniors from BSOC and BCAOC have something to run to compete for on Thursdays. If you have anything to add about Peter, please fill in the comments below.
This concludes our second instalment of the WAUr. In the next issue, we’ll do our best to be predictably inconsistent and consistently unpredictable. What could be worse than the enemy actually understanding our doctrine? We’ll also see how the BSOC students fare in throughout the signals estimate process.